How To Learn From Tapping Out

Today, I invited a white belt student for his first real roll.

The student had already had more than ten privates. The first several sessions were about introducing the basic techniques for each of the major ground positions and drilling the techniques cooperatively to absorb the correct mechanics.

Early on, a new student to jiu-jitsu needs 3 things: 

1) Some BJJ-specific exercises (shrimps and bridges) to prepare the body to move on the mat
2) An understanding of the major ground positions (mount, guard, 1/2 guard etc.)
3) Basic techniques for each of the those major ground positions

Free sparring is not very productive if you have ZERO idea of how to pass a guard or escape from mount. It is, as one of my old friends said, “An exercise in brute force and ignorance!”

It is one thing to drill a technique with a cooperative partner. It is quite another to make it work against a fully resisting opponent, especially when you are fatigued and your blood is full of adrenaline.  New students can draw a complete blank when actually rolling and they often find themselves trapped in an uncomfortable position.

So, the new student and I do the BJJ fist bump and he starts trying to pass my guard. Before long, he is swept, mounted and arm locked.



I start in his guard.

Pass, mount, arm lock.



After the roll we review the roll and identify some of the mistakes.

This is where we learn from the taps.

Question #1 – “How did you get tapped?”

Question #2 – “How do you prevent that tap from happening so easily next time? I could also ask, “What mistake did you make that allowed the arm lock?”

We then reviewed his first mistake: pushing with his arms to escape the mount.  He learned that he should instead use a proper, technical bridge-and-roll escape.

After that, we talked about how he forgot to make sure he had a solid base when he passed my guard. This led to multiple scissor sweeps.

Finally, we drilled the correct solutions.

In your own training, you should be analyzing where you are getting stuck and which positions are you getting tapped in. Then, you should return to class and ask your instructor (or the training partner who got the taps) about the solution to your specific technical problem.

You can learn jiu-jitsu by just showing up and passively absorbing the material, but the best way to benefit from your rolls is to analyze your training taps and use that feedback to focus your drilling. Step by step you use the feedback from your rolling to identify, drill and correct those holes.

Read also on Jiu-jitsu Times : “Technique Collectors” – Good or Bad?


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